When it comes up in conversation with a non-homeschooler that we homeschool, I either get curious questions (which I don’t honestly mind all that much), or, thank fully more rarely, but worse, I get the justifications why they do NOT homeschool their kids, as if my choice TO homeschool is a direct attack on their choice NOT to.
Some of the justifications make me out to be a saint: “Wow, you must have so much patience to homeschool your kids!” These people have clearly never met me. I am SO not a patient person, at least when it comes to dealing with whiny small people. I think, in fact, that they are my patience’s kryptonite. If you want to ascribe to me some miraculous level of virtue, the only one I can think of that fits would be “able to stomach unbelievable amounts of clutter,” and even that one is of dubious value.
Some of the justifications make me sound like a hermit with no self-identity: “I couldn’t cut myself off from adult society like that, and spend all my time with my kids. I need more me time.” Well, guess what folks, *so do I*. See that part above about me being impatient? Part of that stems from me not getting enough of it! Fact of the matter is that I’m a teacher by profession, so if I worked I’d be around kids anyway, and I just assume be around my own! Smooth family relationships are always a balancing act; homeschooling doesn’t change that.
Some of the justifications go so far as to tell me that I’m hurting society: “*I* prefer to improve education from inside the system. If all of us who cared just homeschooled our kids, who would look out for the kids still in the public schools?” I don’t see the two as mutually exclusive, TYVM. I can support (and even organize) programs in our public schools while homeschooling my own kids. If anything, I’m doing something POSITIVE for my local district by homeschooling: I help them cut down on class-sizes and my town isn’t spending tax dollars educating my children. I’m not sticking my head in the sand about public education, and I AM working to improve it. I’m just not making my kids sit in the leaky boat as our society argues over how best to bail it out.
There are only two justifications for not homeschooling that I ever actually like hearing: “We don’t think that homeschooling is the right match for our family,” and its cousin, my all time favorite: “Our kids are really thriving in their schools. They are happy, and growing, and learning, and it is just the right choice for us.” I wish I got to hear that one more often.
I have no issue with folks who chose to put their kids in school: I’m not in their families, and I’m not faced with their choices. It isn’t like homeschooling is some magic wand I get to wave and **poof** my kids are happy, well-adjusted, and thoroughly well-educated. Yes, we get to prioritize the things we feel deserve it, but (and trust me on this) that doesn’t mean it all goes smoothly, or lives up to our desires and expectations. Homeschooling is simultaneously incredibly easy and the most insane thing I’ve ever done. Weeks go by without my feeling like we’ve done much of anything (like October, folks) but then I’ll hear my five year olds figure out for themselves how multiplicatoin works, and I have it pounded home, yet again, that most of what I need to do as their homeschooling parent is keep them safe, fed on food and ideas, and *get the heck out of their way*.
The big part folks, is that we all make what we feel are the best decisions for our kids. You make yours, we make ours, and, hopefully at the end of the day (or the end of their childhood) we think we made the right ones. That’s all the justification any of us need.